By Mary DellaValle
Automotive Parts Associates’ (APA) 32nd annual Shareholders’ & Manufacturers’ Conference, held March 14-16 in St. Augustine, Fla., boasted 310 people in attendance, building on the momentum of last year’s successful event. It took place at the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort the perfect setting to get the meeting off to a “full swing” start. Serious about fueling their business success, the 66 members and 74 vendors in attendance engaged in several networking opportunities and participated in unique One-on-One meetings.
The Manufacturer One-on-Ones on Friday gave APA shareholder members the opportunity to discuss business-related issues, learn about new products and programs, and take advantage of great show specials being offered by the APA vendors. Thousands of dollars and gift items were given as door prizes throughout the day.
The meeting also served as a venue to recognize five APA vendors for significant accomplishments:
Professionals’ Choice Vendor of the Year: MAS Industries, Mark Stermer;
Branded Manufacturer of the Year (for the fifth consecutive year): Centric Parts, Mike Musso;
Marketing Partner: Denso, Brian Casey and David Arriaga;
Headquarters Manufacturer of Choice: Dorman, Doug Arnold; and
Largest Total Manufacturers Orders at the 2012 One-on-Ones: UCI-Fram Group, Jamie Nixon.
APA also recognized shareholder members for their longevity and dedication to the aftermarket and the APA group. Long-time member of 22 years, Eleazar Chavez of HRP Auto Parts, El Paso, Texas, was recognized for his loyalty, service and friendship to the group. Also recognized was Tinker Auto Parts for celebrating 50 years in business. Clay Johnson from Factory Motor Parts, Eagan, Minn., was acknowledged for his service to the board of directors from 2009 to 2012, and Robert Duxler from Automotive Inventory Management Systems, Simi Valley, Calif., was applauded for his willingness to go above and beyond his responsibilities as chairman of the board.
Friday evening, attendees enjoyed a private dinner inside the World Golf Hall of Fame, and many played a round of golf in the annual tournament on Thursday morning.
General Session, Saturday Morning
The group reconvened on Saturday morning for a general session that kicked off with opening comments by Dan Freeman, APA president and CEO. Then, keynote speaker Tim Knox shared common sense business advice in the areas of customer service and leadership. Knox advised that good leaders lead by their actions and their words, shared knowledge enhances the team spirit within your company, and great customer service hinges on your employees’ attitude, experience and training.
Knox also provided these “words of wisdom” to ensure business success: Expect the unexpected; ensure open communication among your employees; be flexible and willing to ask for help; always be positive (negativity kills productivity); build relationships; fun engages your employees and drives dedication; first impressions really do count; job descriptions can be limiting and squelch creativity; and seek out and hire “intra-preneurs” those who think they are one of the business owners and, therefore, are driven by job satisfaction and a growth plan.
New for this year’s conference, the group heard from a business improvement panel comprised of: Doug Arnold, Dorman; Mike Maloof, World Auto Parts; Linda Rawlings, Automotive Products, Inc.; Frank Cisek, Denso; Chris Jackson, AMS Automotive; and Randall Swedlove, Morris Automotive Supply. The panel was facilitated by APA’s new Executive Vice President, Gary Martin. In the spirit of sharing best practices, the panelists offered ideas and strategies that helped improve their business.
Caprice Caster, APA director of events and promotions, provided program updates and recapped upcoming promotions, and reminded attendees to save the date for next year’s conference, slated for March 20-22, 2014, at the Hilton of the Americas, Houston, Texas.